Equity investors in oil stocks seeing stock prices rise with oil prices

Fuel Fix:
Stock-market investors have poured nearly $13 billion into U.S. oil companies trying to profit from the surge in crude prices, in a sign the market is convinced the worst of the oil bust is over.

After 29 energy stock sales this year, Wall Street’s bet is paying off. Share prices for U.S. shale drillers including Houston’s Marathon Oil Corp. and Newfield Exploration have climbed by an average 45 percent, as a shrinking global oversupply has pushed oil prices above $47 a barrel.

Investor appetite for oil and gas stocks is still healthy even after record equity offerings in the first quarter. They’ve snapped up $2.6 billion in shares in recent weeks, banking on possibility that crude prices hit bottom in February at $26 a barrel and have started to recover.

“People decided it was time to invest,” said Rob Santangelo, an investment banker at Credit Suisse.

Goldman Sachs, which had previously predicted crude prices could fall as low as $20 a barrel, now says oil could hover around $50 a barrel in the second half of the year.

Oil-production outages in Canada and Nigeria have drained the world’s oil glut, putting the oil market into a supply deficit “much earlier than we expected,” Goldman said earlier this week.

Rising oil prices would help ailing U.S. drillers patch up their battered balance sheets, and it could also spark a flurry of stock deals, Santangelo said, and that could help them start to rebuild the shale operations they’ve dismantled.
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Some highly leveraged oil companies are still teetering on the brink or bankruptcy filings and reorganizations, but those who managed to get equity deals done appear to be bouncing back at this point.  It would not surprise me to see some of the debt laden companies covert their debt to equity in the coming weeks and months.

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